Bill Maher Goes After Dr. Eben Alexander and Other Brilliant Scholars Who Believe in Complete Nonsense

On Friday night’s Real Time, Bill Maher went after brilliant people who contain a core of stupidity — people like Dr. Eben Alexander and Dr. Ben Carson, who are trained neurosurgeons who also believe in complete nonsense:

“There’s no more attractive figure in the Republican Party these days than an anti-intellectual with an advanced degree,” Maher said, noting other figures like Antonin Scalia, Ted Cruz, and Bobby Jindal, “who are accomplished scholars on the outside, and on the inside a creamy layer of [Michele] Bachmann.”

(via Mediaite)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Hidai

    Yeah, I used to be Adventist like Ben Carson, and it REALLY irritates the hell out of me that he is a brilliant surgeon who is a creationist. Its the the EXACT equivalent that alchemists can claim Issac Newton as one of their own. You can be brilliant and completely moronic and stupid at the same time. Its possible, its a messed up cognitive dissonance people have.

  • jeffcdo

    This was good but I can’t help but wonder, does Maher still believe in ghosts? I’ll never forgot one night on “Politically Incorrect” Maher said he had proof there were ghosts because someTHING moved the balls on his pool table overnight. That’s right…he didn’t bump it with his hip while high on the pot, it wasn’t an earthquake, or one of the hookers he had sleeping over, or an errant Hollywood Hills rat scurrying across the table – the most probable explanation was a “ghost.”

  • Mike Hitchcock

    If you are interested in Newton’s relationship with alchemy – which wasn’t as daft then as it might appear now – the BBC have a great documentary.

  • ungullible

    This is massively hypocritical of Maher, since he’s an anti-vaccer.

  • dugleik

    Bill Maher is a germ theory denier. He doesn’t get to call other people out on their stupidity.

  • 3lemenope

    Saying that people get sick more often than they otherwise would because they eat like crap and don’t exercise isn’t exactly a denial of the germ theory of disease. Nor is expressing an (I think manifestly stupid and wrong) opinion that getting a flu vaccine in a first world country doesn’t pass a reasonable cost/benefit analysis.

    Mischaracterizing the positions of your opponents makes you less credible.

  • rustygh

    Even bill can make a mistake.The anti vvaccine thing is a huge one and someone should smack him accross the face for that. However much of what he believes is sure touching base with me.

  • Skeptico

    It’s not a mischaracterization. This is from March 2005 – I transcribed this from the TV:

    I don’t believe in vaccination either. That’s a… well, that’s a… what? That’s another theory that I think is flawed, and that we go by the Louis Pasteur theory, even though Louis Pasteur renounced it on his own deathbed and said that Beauchamp was right: it’s not the invading germs, it’s the terrain. It’s not the mosquitoes, it’s the swamp that they are breeding in.

    He clearly denies germ theory from the quote above. He’s anti-vax, and anti-“western” medicine. His anti-flu vaccine comments were not confined to “cost-benefit” – he said:

    …if you have a flu shot for more than five years in a row, there’s ten times the likelihood that you’ll get Alzheimer’s disease.

    This is Hugh Fudenberg’s nonsense. Commenters above are correct – Maher needs to get some self-awareness about his own stupid beliefs.

  • mike

    I would agree that vaccine’s don’t pass short term cost/benefit analysis. They pass long term analysis. And the primary reason that they don’t pass short term analysis is because so many people are already vaccinated. However, that scale is tipping as enough morons like Maher advocate anti-vaccination so that herd immunity dissipates. And don’t forget the people who can not be vaccinated, for whom the anti-vaccers have no concern.

  • 3lemenope

    In 2009, he said:

    “What I’ve read about what they think I’m saying is not what I’ve said. I’m not a germ theory denier. I believe vaccinations can work. Polio is a good example. Do I think in certain situations that inoculating Third World children against malaria or diphtheria, or whatever, is right? Of course. In a situation like that, the benefits outweigh costs.

    “But to me living in Los Angeles? To get a flu shot? No.”

    So maybe he was a denier in 2005, but he clearly isn’t one now and hasn’t been for at least four years.

  • 3lemenope

    Quite so. As I indicated, I think his opinion on the issue is dumb and wrong, and you articulated exactly why.

  • Octoberfurst

    It does make me wonder how people with PhD’s and scientific backgrounds can believe in nonsense like creationism. When I was a fundie Christian I told people I believed in creationism but I had serious doubts that I kept to myself. Then as I learned more about evolution I became a progressive Christian who believed that the earth was billions of years old but that God had a hand in guiding evolution. Now I just believe in evolution sans God. In other words the more I learned the more I doubted.

    But guys like Ben Carson have tons of scientific training and are–supposedly– taught to look at things like cause and effect and to dig for reasons why things happen. I guess they just have self-imposed blind spots when it comes to things that the Bible says. “The Bible says God created the world in 6 days so I believe it! Damn the evidence to the contrary!” It’s quite sad actually.

  • islandbrewer

    I got the impression that he has since realized his stupidity, and no longer mentions the vaccine thing out of some embarrassment. He hasn’t renounced it or apologized for it, however.

  • Dave G.

    Bill Maher goes after Neurosurgeon? Justin Bieber goes after Mozart? Glenn Beck goes after Einstein? Yeah. That’s about right.

  • dugleik

    I am in fact to lazy and sick to write this out right now, but I might at some point. Starts at 3:55

  • allein

    I saw a video recently (posted here in the last few weeks, I think) where he was talking about how stupid people’s reasons for not getting their kids vaccinated for HPV are.

  • notsylvie

    I’ve also noticed that a PhD can also be waved around to give credence to an opinion that has nothing to do with the subject in which the person got their degree, e.g. Barry Fell: good in his field, invertebrate biology; raving nutter outside his field on the subject of archaeology.

  • JET

    Sometimes Maher is right and sometimes he’s wrong. Often he’s funny. He’s always smug and irritating.

  • Artor

    When you’re right, you’re right. Bill Maher is not always right, not by a long shot, but in this clip; he’s right. Eben Alexander is an ignorant fucktard who absolutely should know better, but let his ideological blinders make him look like a moron.

  • 3lemenope

    One link referencing his words in 2005, the other in 2006. See my response above.

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    None of us are 100% perfectly logical in all areas of our lives, so I cut Bill some slack (although I admit that the vaccine issue is a huge one with deadly results).

    Well, if a few years of dating Cara Santa Maria didn’t cure him of his anti-vaccine tendencies, this area may be a lost cause.

    Still, I am happy to have him on the side of logic/reality when it comes to religion.

  • ungullible

    None of us are perfectly logical, but I like to think that we atheists strive for it a bit more and better than others, and as you admit – this is a glaring problem for Maher. I hold more respect for someone who is logically consistent but disagrees with me than I do for someone who happens to agree with me but is logically inconsistent.

    Side comment and I may be in the minority here, but I also must admit I’m not a big fan of Maher – he does make me laugh and his opinions frequently align with mine, but he’s also an off-putting pompous ass. I think there are times and places for atheists to be abrasive and I support that, but Maher overdoes it and I think he harms his/our cause more than he helps it.

  • Stev84

    He isn’t lecturing him on brain surgery.

  • David Mock

    Agreed, I don’t understand his appeal. Where Hitchens, Harris, and Dawkins were militant by providing sound beliefs for why religion is illogical, Maher just resorts to, “Religion is fucking stupid and so are you if you believe in it. If you want to argue that, I’ll make fun of you on completely unrelated topics.” This is all despite the fact that he is, like you said, anti-vaccinations, a PETA supporter, believes in ghosts, oh and this little bit:

  • houndies

    This reminds me of the pastor who interviewed you during his church service. At the end of the video you posted, you had left the stage and the pastor proceeded to tell his audience how there is tons of evidence that jesus existed and that his neighbor, an astrophysicist (who is UBER smart, BTW) said that there has to be a god. If the scientist neighbor said it, then its just gotta be true! Nevermind that maybe the neighbor was just making pleasant conversation or possibly referring to a creative force of some kind and not necessarily the xtian god. The xtians sure love it when the “scientific” community endorses their god cuz that makes it true for sure!

  • midnight rambler

    The thing is, though he may be on the same “side” WRT religion, he’s not really on the side of logic.

  • UWIR

    Being a neurosurgeon means no one can disagree with you? That the fact that someone has a fancy degree doesn’t mean that they can’t be a moron is exactly Maher’s point.

  • Dave G.

    Sure they can. But it is typically better done by someone who doesn’t have the gift of constant ignorance mixed with arrogance like Maher.

  • Dave G.

    By that definition, when Fred Phelps is right, he’s right. When Glenn Beck is right, he’s right. When Rush Limbaugh is right, he’s right.

  • Ghost Buster

    I’m pretty sure he doesn’t believe in ghosts… On a Real Time episode a year or so ago he mentioned something about ghosts not making sense and then sort of rolled his eyes when saying apparently the audience believes in ghosts. He also said reincarnation doesn’t fly because no baby’s first words are, “Hi, I’m Bill from accounting.”

  • ron

    Bill is awesome as usual. He does get right into the real world of politics, and religion,

  • jeffcdo

    Maybe not anymore but he once did. I found the transcript of that show:

  • Artor

    Yes, that’s correct. But how often are they right about anything? Not fucking often!

  • Anna
  • Drew M.

    You pretty much nailed my feelings on him.

  • Hitch’s Apprentice

    I got out of my chair and jumped up and down when Bill broached this topic… and I’m 69 years old, so jumping up and down isn’t that easy… But Bill Maher is so right about this!!!!

  • spider

    If “Bill” has a problem wih Carlson…. he’s got a problem with Obama. What a maroon…

  • Marie

    I personally don’t care what Dr. Ben Carson’s views on religion, or politics are. The man is a brilliant surgeon who has saved many MANY lives, my son’s included. What has Bill Maher done except criticize anyone who dares to think differently than him, what has Bill done to advance society? Nothing….. He’s a waste of good air.

  • Hmmm

    I would just like to know at what point does science thoroughly explain why people near death share the very similar hallucination?
    Even young kids not doctrined into any religious dogma.
    What made evolution decide, ‘Okay, you’re all going to see vivid colors, talk without speaking, go through dark tunnels, etc.

    I mean you’d have better luck winning the lotto 4 times in the same month than to have a room full of people all dream the same shit.

    Oh, and lastly: “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”

    ― Nikola Tesla

    Now how many times have I read NDEs and hear of energy, higher vibrational states, etc? Plenty.
    Get busy, science. The current resting of laurels will only hold for so long.

  • guest

    I’d think if I was an Atheist like Bill, I wouldn’t waste my only shot at life by spending it arguing about shit I don’t believe in. Infact, I wouldn’t bother to hold a job or anything else. Time just became real damn precious holding onto that viewpoint to be spent at a job, going to college or any of the other mundane things of ‘life.’

  • Artor

    There’s plenty of research out there. I found this link with about 5 seconds of Google-fu. Science is hardly resting on any laurels. Also, just because we don’t understand exactly how something works, assuming therefore Goddidit is a huge leap of illogic.

  • Tom McElmurry Sr.

    Bill maher? No credibility there! Imbecile!

  • Don’t want to give a name

    Keep smoking pot Bill, that will make everyone think that your view of God is correct. Eben Alexander was likely telling a truthful account of his experience. You, however, openly advocate an illegal drug and make fun of Christ….I will pray for you.